Sizing up Marriott’s bold Snapchat move
Sizing up Marriott’s bold Snapchat move
21 JANUARY 2015 9:15 AM
Marriott’s decision to launch a Snapchat marketing campaign comes as no surprise. But to get the job done, the company’s approach relies heavily on influencers. 
While attending my family’s Christmas dinner, an important thing was brought to my attention: My 17-year-old twin cousins think Facebook is lame. In fact, they rarely use it. 
Instead, my cousins spend the majority of their time sharing photos and videos on Snapchat, Instagram and Vine. This is the norm for the fickle and influential 13- to 25-year-old bracket. Boy, do I feel old. I’m 27, and I have never used Snapchat or Vine. That doesn’t mean I don’t understand the impact a brand could have by being visible on the video and photo messaging apps. 
Marriott International gets it. And I’m sure they won’t be the last hotel company to launch a Snapchat campaign in an effort to resonate with younger audiences.
As part of Marriott’s content marketing strategy in conjunction with its recently launched Marriott Global Content Studio, the company in October announced several new production and development deals. One of those deals included a partnership with a Snapchat-focused marketing and analytics platform to develop an interactive series on Snapchat featuring influencers such as Casey Neistat (an American film director, producer and creator of popular YouTube videos) and Shaun McBride (Snapchat’s first homegrown celebrity, according to a Forbes article).
You might be asking yourself how the heck this works for a hotel brand. 
I’m here to say I have the same question. Here’s the gist, according to an article from travel website Skift: Marriott chose four influencers to help launch a three-month Snapchat campaign. These influencers will create a two-way conversation with users about what cities the influencers should visit. The influencers will then work with Marriott to pick the most popular city.
Then I’m guessing the influencers travel to said city?
Once in the city, Marriott will work with its influencers to produce Snapchat stories (these are daily, raw-video snippets) showing their experience at a Marriott hotel in given city. Side note: The Marriott Hotels brand is the only Marriott International brand that is part of the campaign.
Content is king with millennial travelers (including myself), and anything that feels like an advertisement makes us feel less enticed. Partnering with outside influencers on this project makes the probability of the campaign’s success much more likely than if Marriott did everything on its own. 
The questions
Two things came to mind when I first heard news of the company dabbling in Snapchat:
  1. Why would Marriott invest in content that is only accessible for 24 hours (this is how long a Snapchat “story” lasts)?
  2. What if the influencers do a bad job?
Disappearing content can be a drawback for those (i.e. the targeted youngsters) hoping to revisit the content to plan future vacations. Of course Marriott thought of that when it decided to forge ahead with this marketing campaign. The company that Marriott partnered with for this Snapchat deal has the ability to capture content and share it on other platforms. It also can provide data analytics for Snapchat.
Marriott has plans to disseminate the more pertinent information on its Facebook and Twitter pages, among other social media channels. Depending on the campaign’s success, of course. 
That addresses my first concern. Now, on to the next.
Marriott is putting a lot of faith in its influencers, even allowing them to publish their Snapchat stories on the Marriott channel. This is something that could pay off in the long run. Putting the Marriott name in front of influencers’ followers can be a boon to the brand overall. However, it won’t be an overnight success. A bunch of 18-year-olds aren’t going to go book a Marriott hotel because they saw it on the “Shonduras” Snapchat page (that’s Marriott influencer Shaun McBride’s Snapchat name).
The point of this experimental campaign is that it’s planting the seed. A seed that is likely to grow as the fickle 13- to 25-year-olds age. 
Whatever the case might be, Marriott’s Snapchat experiment is an interesting one, and I think other major hotel companies are probably paying close attention to the campaign’s success (or lack thereof).
Email Samantha Worgull or find her on Twitter.
The opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Hotel News Now or its parent company, STR and its affiliated companies. Bloggers published on this site are given the freedom to express views that may be controversial, but our goal is to provoke thought and constructive discussion within our reader community. Please feel free to comment or contact an editor with any questions or concerns. 


  • Elle January 21, 2015 4:44 AM

    "A bunch of 18-year-olds aren’t going to go book a Marriott hotel because they saw it on the “Shonduras” Snapchat page (that’s Marriott influencer Shaun McBride’s Snapchat name). " Do you know this for sure, or is another assumption?

  • Um... January 21, 2015 5:29 AM

    It's probably an assumption since this is a blog. But a good one. How many 18 year olds are out there booking vacations? They are not likely going to book a lot of hotel rooms at all.

  • Ed January 29, 2015 7:16 PM

    I feel like Marriott is trying to hard to be hip and relevant to the millennial generation. They are constantly chasing the latest social media platforms without a clear goal or objective in mind. Snapchat is not the best platform to attract millennials. It's designed for engagement.

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